The perk of going to the swamps as a first grader, however, is that you get to do things the grown-ups don't. Ranger Stacy made us turn off our cell phones and speak in a "nature" voice as we dipped nets into the swamp vegetation and then picked through mud and plants to find the many creatures living there, which we then put in clear bins so we could get a better look at them. I admit, I was caught off guard when the almost grown crawfish came lurching out of an impossibly small clump of mud like a drunken sailor, but overall, I think my son was impressed that I wasn't too much of a scaredy cat. You also get to play "Swamp Bingo" as a first grader, which forces you to look for things you might normally miss, like the hidden alligators with only their eyes popping out of the water, or snakes and frogs and spiderwebs and every other creature that sends first graders into a paroxysm of delight.
I can't wait to return, this time as an adult (but hopefully with the sharp eye of a first grader). Park admission is free, the boardwalk neverending as it wends its way deep into the swamp, and it's one of the most peaceful places I can think of. It's also one of the great treasures of my region - it's a shame that I've not made more of it.
For those of you who may take a trip to New Orleans in the future, it's well worth your time to go. They're open daily, except Christmas Day and Mardi Gras Day. The Visitor's Center is open from 9 am - 5 pm, but I was told that the nature trails remain open, in case you're up for an early morning walk. You can simply park outside the gates and walk in. And if you're there during the summer (or even spring, fall, and possibly winter), don't forget the sunscreen or insect repellent. We were lucky yesterday with little sun and no mosquitos, but it was just a gift from the gods!
A field trip isn't the best time to take photographs, but I can never help myself. I always feel an overwhelming need to capture some segment of it, but the entirety of it is so much greater than what can be captured through a lens and I find myself needing to go back the moment I leave.
I love the delicate, feathery fronds of the cypress trees as spring arrives.
Newts and slugs and the tiniest crawfish I've ever seen.